Yakima City Council

Council members, from left to right, Eliana Macias, Danny Herrera and Soneya Lund are pictured during a city council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Yakima, Wash.

Yakima will not formally participate in the regional crime lab proposed for Yakima County, the Yakima City Council decided Tuesday.

The council was split 4-3 on the decision, with Mayor Janice Deccio, Deputy Mayor Soneya Lund and Council members Danny Herrera and Eliana Macias voting against and Council members Matt Brown, Patricia Byers and Holly Cousens supporting the city’s participation.

Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell has said the regional lab would establish a single repository for suspect information, evidence and weapons ballistics and improve information sharing among the county’s 13 law enforcement agencies.

Deccio and Lund agreed with determinations made by city staff members that the services the city would receive by joining the lab — crime mapping software, analysts and ballistics testing — would duplicate services already provided to or by the city.

Brown, Byers and Cousens said the duplication, and associated costs of $91,099 for the city’s first year of participation in the program, would be worth it for the information sharing and intelligence benefit it would provide.

“The lab side of things to me is — I don’t see a benefit at all to our department because we already have all of those aspects,” Brown said at the meeting. “The intelligence side, though, I would argue that more intelligence is always better, period.”

Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray said more information does benefit the city, but the city does not and should not have to pay for information sharing.

“Let them get their analysts up and going. They can get us intel, we’ll get them intel,” Murray said at the meeting. “I think the more we can share, the better.”

The Yakima Valley Council of Governments was awarded $2.8 million by the county to operate the lab, which will be based at a county substation in Zillah.

The regional lab will be administered by YVCOG, but overseen by a board of police chiefs. Udell is the chair of the board.

The council voted on motion that, if passed, would have directed staff to bring back a resolution and amended one-year contract with YVCOG including changes recommended by City Attorney Sara Watkins to make the agreement more clear.

Contact Kate Smith at katesmith@yakimaherald.com

Yakima City Government Reporter

Kate Smith is the city government & politics reporter for the Yakima Herald-Republic. She is passionate about connecting people to policy in storytelling that is thorough, fair and compassionate. In Yakima, she is following local elections, city council, budgets & audits, public health, housing & homelessness, public safety, utilities and more. 

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